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The 10 stages of labour (yes, 10), that no one talks about

You’ve probably been told that there are three stages of labour, which, from a medical perspective, is correct. But, from a mum’s perspective, there are actually ten.

Yes, you read that right. Ten.

While the three stages of labour (the dilation, the birth and the afterbirth), are universally known in the medical world, we wanted to break down labour from the point of view of the person doing all the hard work – a mum.

So, without further ado, let us walk you through a mum’s perspective on the stages of labour, from the first contraction to the first cuddle. Minimal medical jargon involved.

Stage One – The “Oh, this isn’t so bad” phase

As the first contractions starts, anticipation kicks in. (Hopefully) in less than 24 hours, you will be holding your newborn in your arms. The pain isn’t too unbearable yet and you’re pretty sure that you’ve got this whole labour thing in the bag.

Stage Two – The “Should I call the hospital?” phase

As the contractions get closer and stronger, you are probably contemplating making the trek to the delivery ward.  If this is your first baby, then there’s a good chance that you will be told to go home as you’re only 1 cm dilated.

Stage two usually ends with the request to “check again” followed by a few swear words muttered under your breath as it just doesn’t seem physically possible that you are not this close to pushing out a baby.

Stage Three – The “What is happening to my body right now?” phase

During stage three you will probably experience a large amount of leakage. Amniotic fluid, mucus, blood, you name it. It’s messy, yes, but it also means you’re getting closer!

Stage Four The “No, I don’t want to bounce on a fit ball. I want this baby out of me” phase

There are plenty of ways to speed up labour and manage the pain of contractions – having a hot shower, taking deep breaths, bouncing on a fit ball, taking a walk, moving your hips from side to side. You may be willing to try all of these suggestions during stage five. Or you may demand every type of pain relief out there and hope that something works.

Stage Five – The “I hate you, uterus, I seriously hate you” phase

During stage five, you will probably experience a whole slew of labour symptoms. You may vomit. You may swear. You may break out in hot and cold sweats. You may throw ice shavings at your husband. All perfectly normal and natural reactions.

Stage Six – The “Transitional” phase

Doctors have three different terms to describe the lengthy process of dilatation – early (1-3 cm dilated), active (3-8 cm dilated) and the final, transitional (8-10 cm dilated) phase.

Why transitional? Probably because, at this stage, you are officially transitioning from a semi-calm pregnant woman into a fire-breathing dragon on the semi-last leg of labour. Keep it up – turning into a dragon means you’re almost there.

Stage Seven – The “I think I have to poo” phase

Also known as the “get ready to push” stage, this feeling of needing to go to the toilet marks the near-end of your labouring journey. Your cervix is ready. Your baby is ready. And your body is ready to begin to bear down. Good luck!

Stage Eight – The “My lady bits are seriously on fire” phase

Ahh. Crowning. It is probably the most painful part of labour and occurs when your little one’s head begins to poke through the cervix. Yes, it can burn (it’s not called the ‘ring of fire’ for nothing), but it will be all over soon. We promise.

Stage Nine – The “Did I really just have a baby?” phase

After the crowning comes the glorious point your body pushes the rest of bub out of the womb and into the world. The pride, the exhaustion and the shock that comes with the moment bub is placed on your chest is nothing short of incredible. Yes, it’s been a pretty intense journey, but this experience makes it more than worth it.

But, wait, there’s more…


Stage Ten – The “Seriously, I have to push again?” phase

You’ve just given birth to a beautiful baby. Aren’t you done? Nope. Not yet. Stage ten involves eliminating the afterbirth, or the placenta, which, as you can imagine, is pretty much the last thing you really feel like doing after just giving birth. But, hey, it’s the final stage. And, compared to the ninth stage, it’s a walk in the park.

Of course, this isn’t what every labour is like. Some women experience only a few of these stages; some women experience the stages in a different order; and some breeze straight into stage 9. But, it’s best to be prepared, you know, just in case your baby decides to take the scenic route on his journey into the world and hits every single stop along the way.

So, to all the mums expecting their little ones soon, good luck on the amazing adventure ahead, both in labour and in life with your little one.

Make sure you are prepared for all the stops, spills and spit-ups along the way with Red Nose Baby Wipes, made especially for busy Aussie mums and little Aussie bums.

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